Taylor's Weekly Pastoral Letter
I’ll be honest. When deciding which of the spiritual disciplines to lift up in this Eastertide series of sermons, we intentionally decided not to do a sermon on Service. Truth is, service is an area in which First Church excels; when others ask me about our church, I am always quick to note that this is a church where we don’t just write checks—we get our hands dirty in the actual work of serving others. It’s one part of our “personality” that I appreciate the most. I’d like to lift up a distinction that may be helpful for us in consideration of service, and that is the distinction between service carried out as an act of love and care for another and service taken on as a spiritual discipline. Read this week's letter here .
Sunday, May 3
4th Sunday of Easter
Preacher: Rev. Taylor Fuerst
A Strong Spirit in Troubled Times: The Practices that Sustain Us
Scripture: Luke 24:13-32
Sermon: "Personal Reflection"
Children's Sunday School
Sunday, May 3, 9:00 a.m.
Join Lara Greene, Director of Children's Ministries, for a live 20-minute Sunday School time of song, prayer, and fellowship. 
Zoom Login: https://fumcaustin.zoom.us/j/402211293  Meeting ID: 402 211 293 

Interactive Time of Worship
Sunday, May 3, 11:00 a.m. (Opens at 10:45 a.m.)
Join 15 minutes early to chat with our church family.
Join your church family for music, a greeting time, announcements, Scripture, and prayer.
Zoom Login: https://fumcaustin.zoom.us/j/496666774  Meeting ID: 496 666 774 

Virtual Worship Podcast
After you join us for the live portion of worship, we invite you to continue by listening to an audio worship podcast. The sermon link will be emailed Sunday morning and posted on our website , iTunes podcast , and YouTube Channel .

FEAST/TOAST for Young Adults
Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
All young adults ages 20-45 are invited to join us weekly to check in, share, and connect on Zoom! We'll treat this time as a virtual happy hour. Bring a drink. Bring a story. Bring a friend. Let's do our best to stay connected while we have to stay apart.
Zoom Login: https://fumcaustin.zoom.us/j/516485253 Meeting ID: 516 485 253

Conversations on Racial Justice
May 3, 4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Join us as we work to be anti-racists, seeking to undo racism in ourselves and to recognize and understand our participation in systemic racism. This group meets on first Sundays, 4:30-6:00 p.m., to discuss and learn more about racial oppression, issues of whiteness and racism, and other topics through videos, podcasts, and short articles.

This Sunday, we will continue the conversation with the web series "The Next Question: Imagining How Expansive Racial Justice Can Be," produced and hosted by Austin Channing Brown. We’ll watch and discuss an interview with Maya Schenwar. Maya is a leading activist exploring prison abolition. With incisive brilliance and creative wit, Maya and the hosts dig into ineffectiveness of retributory justice, opening up our imaginations for a justice system built on restoration instead. Zoom link provided after registration. Hope to "see" you on Zoom for this continuing conversation!  Register Here .
Stories from people building community and fulfilling the mission of the church in new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connection at a Distance
By Robbie Ausley
In September of 2017, serving as a host for an event in our Family Life Center, I was delighted to encounter Stephanie Benold. She had been a FUMC member twenty-five years earlier when her two daughters were little. They then joined a church in Georgetown, nearer their home; however, after a divorce, Stephanie was back in Austin and facing ovarian cancer. That encounter brought her back to FUMC and to the Downtowners Sunday School class.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, Stephanie was in and out of the hospital and treatment; however, in mid-March, she learned nothing more could be done. When I shared that she had only a few weeks to live but could not receive visitors because of the coronavirus, members of Downtowners wanted desperately to reach out to her.

On Palm Sunday afternoon, a few of us gathered outside her home, six feet apart. Wishing we could hug her, we sang "Blessed Assurance" and waved palms while Stephanie’s daughter sat her by the window to watch and wave. She died just a few days later, on Good Friday at the age of sixty-three.

As we had grown to know and love Stephanie over the years, and as we had witnessed her faith and courage during the last part of her journey, we wanted to be by her side...to be present. However, standing outside her window, we realized that we could be present and touch her as we also touched one another…even at a distance. On that Palm Sunday afternoon, we understood that “connection” need not be physical to be authentic. We thank God for the spiritual connection…the "communion of the saints" that keeps us together.
Alternative Gifts for Mother's Day
Order Deadline: Monday, May 4
On Mother's Day, May 10, you are invited to honor your Mother—and other women who are important to you—by making an alternative gift that helps a mother and family in need. Get started now by selecting the gifts you wish to symbolically provide using our online form. Make your online payment from our website by donating towards the Mother’s Day Alternative Fund. Order Online .
Recognizing Graduating Seniors
Deadline May 8
Graduation is an exciting milestone—at any age! We want to recognize all graduating seniors—high school, college, or graduate school—in our FUMC Weekly on May 19. Please provide as soon as possible a picture of the graduate, name, school graduated from, degree(s) received, and future plans. Email information by May 12 to Devon Bailey at [email protected] .
Audio-Visual Specialist
FUMC is hiring a part-time Audio-Visual Specialist at 8 hours per week, Sunday-Thursday. This position serves as the primary point of contact and accountability for all audio-visual media support within the church confines including the media center in the Sanctuary balcony and equipment across campus. Involvement will include weekly worship service preparation, special worship service preparation, administration/training of volunteers, and documentation of all churchwide media equipment. The Audio-Visual Specialist reports directly to the Director of Operations. Will work in conjunction with pastoral staff on a weekly basis on worship preparation and on an as needed basis with the Director of Communication related to Facebook and other media platforms. To view the full job description, go to fumcaustin.org/hiring .
Mercy & Justice Book Study: Loaded
Tuesdays, May 12, 19, & 26
6:30 p.m.–7:45 p.m.
Zoom Online
Gun violence greatly affects individuals, families and communities. Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment , is a deeply researched—and deeply disturbing—history of guns and gun laws in the United States, from the original colonization of the country to the present. As historian and educator Dunbar-Ortiz explains, in order to understand the current obstacles to gun control, we must understand the history of U.S. guns, from their role in the "settling of America" and the early formation of the new nation, and continuing up to the present. Please register on our website and a Zoom invitation will be sent. To register and view chapter readings, click here .
Online Giving Step-by-Step Guide
Did you know that setting up online giving is easy to do? This step-by-step guide will show you how to set up giving in Church Life. Giving can be set up as a recurring automated gift and you will receive an email confirmation with each gift. Your gifts are a blessing to the ministry of FUMC Austin. Questions? Contact Deanna Fairchild, Director of Finance at [email protected] .
Mercy & Justice 5th Sunday Presentation: Gun Violence
Sunday, May 31, 10:00 a.m. 
Zoom Online (link sent after registration)
The prophet Micah casts a hopeful vision of the future where nations will “beat their swords into iron plows, and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Micah 4:3) Gun violence greatly affects individuals, families and communities. The Mercy & Justice Team invites you to a presentation by FUMC Member Melanie Greene, an active volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We’ll discuss facts of gun violence in the United States, what the UMC says about gun violence, and ways to respond to the call upon United Methodist to prayerfully address gun violence. A zoom link will be sent after registration. Register Here .
Family COVID-19 Care Package Week Two
Only a few short weeks ago, the COVID-19 quarantine brought the world to an abrupt stop. As the dust seems to settle, parents are slowly adjusting to the idea they are the ones in charge of daily schedules. Your first resource is Embracing the Power of a Schedule, a brief video on how to set schedules for a healthy environment. The second resource, Bedtime Routines, gives parents three ideas on how to structure bedtime, so children maintain healthy sleep habits and have some certainty amidst the uncertainty. View our Week Two Package here .
Having Trouble Connecting?
Are you struggling to connect with worship and classes due to technical difficulties? Can we help you? Please email Mary Heckmann at [email protected] so we can help you stay connected to ministry opportunities and your church family! Can you help connect others? Help others stay connected during these isolating times. Please notify us to join the team of people who can call those who are struggling to use new technology.
Weekly Prayer & Connection
Wednesdays, 7:30-8:00 p.m.
A simple, low-key time to gather with FUMC family to check in and pray for one another and our world. No frills, no program, just people and the Holy Spirit! We'll gather each Wednesday night. Zoom Login: https://fumcaustin.zoom.us/j/805144062
Meeting ID: 805 144 062
Conference Safety Training
Stuck at home and looking for a way to be in ministry? How about starting (or finishing!) the training to work with our children, youth, and vulnerable adults once we resume our full schedule of programs? This training is required for all staff and volunteers who want to lead Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, mission trips, homebound ministries, and many of our service opportunities. We also recommend all parents become certified so they can help fill in for our regular volunteers as needed. Many of you who were in the first round to be trained are now receiving emails to begin your recertification. Please go ahead and recertify now. There are downloadable PDFs on our website that explain the steps for both the certification and recertification processes. We appreciate your dedication to our many ministries with vulnerable populations. Please email questions to Safety Policy Administrator Emily Buchanan at [email protected] . Read More .
Manna Bags Needed
We are seeking assembled Manna Bags to hand out to our hungry neighbors on the street. Officer Shelly, our officer from the Feed My People Breakfast, is helping distribute the Manna Bags where they are needed the most. Completed manna bags may be dropped off at the Family Life Center. Please email Pastor Cathy at [email protected] with any questions about items to include and for her phone number to coordinate drop-off. She will unlock the FLC front door remotely. Manna Bag items could include: tuna or chicken lunch kit, peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches, Nutri Grain fruit bar, raisins, juice box, socks, and an encouraging message such as "God loves you."
Story Submissions
As we wait to gather again for worship, we can still come together as a church. Be part of the Bolder Than The State of Texas StoryCorps Project! Download the StoryCorps app and record your stories of living faith and your life with FUMC-Austin. You can tell a 5 minute story or a 45 minute story! Upload your stories to our StoryCorps community archive page so we can listen. To learn more about StoryCorps FUMC visit our StoryCorps resource guide .

Spring 2020 Issue
Help us build the next issue of Bolder than the State of Texas ! We are particularly seeking stories about Change and Resurrection for the Spring 2020 issue. We are open to poetry, essays, photography, or art! Be part of the story this church is telling the world. Submissions accepted continually, with a deadline of May 1 for the Spring 2020, Issue 2. Submit your stories online at fumcaustin.org/bolderthantexas . For more information, contact Amy Wink and Caroline Jones at [email protected] .
Prayer Requests
If you have a loved one to lift up, send us your prayer concerns and we will add that person to our prayer list. Prayer requests can be submitted to our pastoral staff using our online form or emailed to [email protected] .
Stay Connected
Church Life allows members to review their contact information, access a church directory, schedule onetime or recurring giving, and access the church calendar. The browser version of Church Life can be accessed at fumcaustin.org/churchlife . If you haven't done so already, download the Church Life mobile app that provides similar access to church information using your same Church Life login. You can easily search for people in the directory and save to your contacts. Learn More .
Catch Up on Sermons

An archive of sermons is available on our website , our iTunes Podcast or YouTube Channel.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes
The Mobile Loaves & Fishes downtown Austin truck (based at FUMC) is still serving meals to the homeless and working poor in our community even during the pandemic and we are needed now more than ever! Last year our MLF truck provided over 26,000 hearty meals with the help of more than 300 dedicated volunteers. That’s 350 runs completed on 310 days! It will cost over $60,000 to find this ministry during 2020. Please give generously as we try to make a difference for our friends living on the streets. Checks marked “Mobile Loaves and Fishes” may be mailed to the church or donations made online, selecting the Mobile Loaves and Fishes drop-down option. For more information about MLF, contact Scott Wilder at [email protected] or 512-971-1525. Give Now .
Submit a prayer request online .
Within our Congregation
Sandy Bowles; Marcia Houston; Rosine Martiale Kengne; Mari Perez; Frank Powell; and Dan Wood.
Encouragement for all educators, students and parents moving to distance learning.
Gratitude for medical care providers, first responders, essential service workers, journalists and our pets.
Concern for the elderly, small business owners, those out of work, migrants separated from their families, and those experiencing homelessnes.
Comfort for those who have lost a loved one and are unable to gather to grieve.
Compassion for all those who may be feeling alone or isolated.
Guidance for our Local, State, and Federal leaders and decision makers.

Beyond our Congregation
Curt Ashmos’ friend, Elissa Marek; Tom & Robbie Ausley’s friend, Gene Brodhead; Grady Basler’s sister, Tonya Basler Stout; Cheryl Bias’ niece, Lauren Stafford; Bob Block’s friend, Tim Sullivan; Fay Brown’s sister, Jo Rene Altenburg; George Gaston’s friend, Dr. Robert Wootton; Marcia Houston’s mother, Johnnie; Melanie Miller’s and Jen Stuart’s father, Doak Thomas; Cindy Reidland’s friends, Carly and Colton Wimberly; and Dick Young’s nephew, Jeff Young.  
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Contact Us
First United Methodist Church
1201 Lavaca St. Austin, TX 78701
(512) 478-5684